Was it out and out hubris that kept the President from firing Rumsfeld before the election? Wouldn’t firing him have signaled a “change in course” and knocked the chocks from underneath the Democratic critique of “stay the course?” Did the President’s stubbornness and overweening pride prevent him from appearing to give in to his political opponents before an election?A good question and I don't have an answer.
The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes chimed in again today and made one good point:
The defeat for Republicans was short of devastating--but only a little short. The House seats the party lost in New York and Connecticut and Pennsylvania will be hard to win back. Just as Republicans have locked in their gains in the South over the past two decades, Democrats should be able to solidify their hold on seats in the Northeast, as the nation continues to split sharply along North-South lines.Barnes also pointed out that Virginia may be slipping from it's Republican hold.
What should worry Republicans most, however, is erosion of its strength in the West and in two states in particular: Colorado and Arizona. Fours years ago, Colorado was solidly Republican. Since then, Democrats have won a Senate seat, two House seats, the governorship, and both houses of the state legislature. At the state level, that's realignment.
In Arizona, Republicans dropped two House seats and Republican Senator John Kyl got a mild scare. Kyl, by the way, may be finest and most able senator in Washington. He's certainly in the top five. Meanwhile, Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano cruised to victory.
The bottom line is this: Colorado and Arizona may not be there for Republicans in the 2008 presidential race. Of course, everything depends on the actual candidates, but these two states start out as presidential swing states. This is a new development.
Virginia is now worrisome for Republicans, even if Senator George Allen wins reelection via recount. It has become more a middle Atlantic than a Southern state, as University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato notes. (Sabato, by the way, picked the outcome in the House and Senate almost perfectly.) Republicans have lost the Washington suburbs of northern Virginia, which have grown into a third of the state's vote. And Representative Thelma Drake almost lost her House seat in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach area, a Republican stronghold heavily populated with active duty and retired military.
Big steps on tip toes
Although a part of me wants revenge and instant gratification I realize that we have to look at long haul. This brings us to Steve Soto's excellent analysis.
A scan of the center-left blogs today reveals that many folks want the Democrats to take their gains last night and use this perceived capital for an aggressive legislative platform. Pelosi cannot afford to do this. The GOP lost the independents last night, who went for the Democrats. The sooner the Democrats take steps to lock in those gains, keep those new voters in a coalition, and compete everywhere outside of the South, the sooner Rove's murder of the GOP will be complete.We need to learn a lesson from the Republicans. They lost because they lost independents and moderates. I seem to recall that happened to the Democrats a few years ago so let's not go down that road again. But at the same time we have to make sure that the neocons and theocrats are buried in garbage dump of history. That includes the likes of Marshall Wittmann.
Yes, many of the prospective new Democratic committee chairs are liberals, but a sizeable number of the new members of the Democratic caucus in both houses next year will not be. You cannot now threaten those gains from last night by pushing issues that endanger purple and red-district pickups. Pelosi needs to pursue a two-pronged strategy of addressing the base's concerns through a return to congressional oversight, while pushing through a moderate, successful legislative agenda that allows for us to pick off moderate Republicans and splinter their caucus. As I have said before, a bipartisan foreign policy matched with a moderate domestic agenda based on reform, economic fairness, and a focus on Main Street rather than Wall Street can yield lasting gains for the Democrats.